When Claus Lindorff co-founded Ron Dorff with Jérôme Touron his aim was clear: to create simple, luxury activewear for men. Ron Dorff, a portmanteau of Touron and Lindorff, was born out of a frustration, as Lindorff explains: ‘I created the brand at a time when it was very difficult to find good-looking, simple sportswear pieces to use at the gym. The excess of oversized logos, over-the-top colour mixes and poor quality made me think that there was a gap in the market.’
Keen to move away from that aesthetic, the Ron Dorff brand took inspiration from iconic sportswear for men to create designs that would appeal to contemporary tastes. ‘Menswear is not about inventing something new and mad, but rather about revisiting the great classics of the past. As a child, I watched Björn Borg playing the finals at Wimbledon wearing tailor made white tennis shorts and a classic tennis polo with stripes and snap buttons. What could be more chic…and functional, for that matter?,’ he says.
It’s this combination of style and functionality that has come to really define the brand. Ron Dorff is known for drawing on its co-founders’ French and Swedish roots. For Lindorff, the two cultures are a perfect match when it comes to fashion. ‘I always say that a Volvo is a great Swedish car. It is a functional, reliable, safe choice. However, it’s not very sexy: it’s rather boring. On the other hand, most French brands have this je ne sais quoi sexiness built in but they are rarely seen as very functional. Ron Dorff mixes the Swedish tradition of functionality with a certain sense of French elegance.’
It’s a winning formula that is particularly suited to activewear. The Ron Dorff sweatshirts, T-shirts and shorts come in neutral colours, often finished with simple word or phrase prints. ‘Less is more. At Ron Dorff we only keep details that add a true functional role to the design. Everything else is based on uncompromising fabric quality and an original cut,’ says Lindorff.
The brand’s philosophy is built on the motto “Discipline is not a dirty word”. ‘If you want results at the gym,’ Lindorff explains, ‘you need to be disciplined; it is also very much applicable to life in general.’ More than just a slogan, it shapes how the company operates. ‘It is truly the leitmotif for the whole team and even our suppliers. It has also become our number one print on T-shirts and sweatshirts,’ Lindorff adds.
The new boutique at The Royal Exchange is the brand’s third in the UK after Covent Garden and Marylebone. Lindorff highlights that The Royal Exchange felt like a particularly fitting location as he has a strong personal connection to the City. He says, ‘I was an investment banker myself in the City after my MBA. I left the City and London to work in fashion in Paris. To be back in the City again 20 years later – but with my own collection this time – is a bit like closing the circle!’
The design of The Royal Exchange boutique is sleek and minimal, with interiors that combine black, white and clear elements with Scandinavian wood. Lindorff explains that it features ‘references to a vintage locker room’ which are in line with the brand’s love for iconic sportswear, and highlights that the aim was to ‘be true to our brand DNA’.
As a result, the design is the perfect canvas for what Lindorff describes as the best of the brand’s offering. ‘It shows what we are best at: no frills, no-logo underwear and a loungewear collection in 100% pure sports cashmere, ideal for those horrid Zoom calls when working from home. The best of our swimwear collection will also be sold throughout the year. These days, people, not least in the City, tend to enjoy a beach holiday anytime of the year.’
The opening of the new boutique coincides with The Royal Exchange’s 450th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Ron Dorff has designed a T-shirt as part of Exclusive Editions, the series of products designed by resident brands of The Royal Exchange in honour of this milestone year. Lindorff says that the Exclusive Editions City Boy T-shirt is ‘made for all those men working in the City… or rather, for the first 300 who come by, since it is a limited edition’. With Lindorff being a former City Boy himself, this celebratory design couldn’t be a more apt way to begin the Ron Dorff story at The Royal Exchange.
The Royal Exchange celebrates its 450th anniversary this year. We look forward to welcoming you for a considered shopping and dining experience in spectacular and historic surroundings. Please visit our boutiques page for regular updates on our retailers’ opening information and hours, as well as details about personal appointments and click and collect services.